Welcome to the review tour for Our Bridal Shop by Danielle Blair. I loved this unique women's fiction story of love, renewal, and acceptance. Please read on for my full thoughts and an excerpt. Then check out what other people had to say as you follow the tour. You can leave comments and questions for the author along the way and enter the giveaway.
Our Bridal ShopEvery family has its secrets, and the March family is no exception.
For the March sisters, Match Made in Devon, the bridal shop opened and run by their parents, was a real-world representation of what true love was all about. But for eldest sister Alexandra that kind of perfection has always seemed unreachable.
Alex has spent over fifteen years in Boston, building up an impenetrable shell of confidence and taking control over her own destiny. If there’s anything missing from her life, it isn’t important anyway. But with her mother’s unexpected death Alex is forced to leave her life in the big city behind and return to her hometown of Devon…and a past she’s been running from for years.
As the March sisters try to salvage the bridal shop their parents loved, Alex is forced to confront her painful past and the real reason she left Devon so many years ago…including childhood sweetheart Jonah Dufort.
Read an excerpt:
Alex’s entire body went cold; a naked, exposed kind of cold, though she was firmly planted in Clement Grant’s stylized version of purgatory, her feet stretching roots into his patterned rug. Big Auntie’s photo blurred. At the window, Daddy turned away.
“She wanted you three to become acquainted,” Grant offered lamely, to fill the room with something, anything.
Blood vessels at Alex’s eardrum magnified her pulse. She pressed the heels of her palms to her forehead to counter the pressure building behind her skull.
“After she was gone.” Perfect.
“I believe the letters should explain.”
Explain how a man could leave his wife, his two young daughters on an iron balcony in mid-November, and bed another woman?
Alex looked at the window. Elias March was gone.
She stood, stormed the window, to breathe where he had lingered, to understand. White stars veiled her vision—flakes beyond the panes of glass or a by-product of the heaviness between her ears—she couldn’t be sure. Alex wanted to yank at bulky book bindings, send them tumbling off the shelves onto Clement Grant and the letters and this perfect woman who seemed an absolute glacier in the face of news that threatened to bury Alex. As fast as the temptation took hold and the vision stretched to its satisfying but imperfect conclusion, the pain in Alex’s head subsided. The first rule of solving the unsolvable was to have a plan. All pieces showing. Know what you have.
Alex turned to the woman. “Where are you from?”
“Georgia. Saint Simmons Island.”
“Who is your mother?”
Freesia looked at Grant. “Do I have to answer?”
Grant stood, hands spread as if to catch himself, the situation, from tumbling headlong into something messy.
“Alex, the letter…” Charlotte’s turn at dialing back everything.
“Screw the letter, Charlotte. I want to hear it from her.”
Freesia gathered up her bag, fit it cross-ways along her long torso, and aimed for the door. Even in exit, she moved scripted, magnificent.
“Alex! What’s gotten into you?”
“Tell her, Miss Day. Tell her because she doesn’t get it. Grief clouds her some days so much she can’t see what’s in front of her.” Alex was shouting now, her words punctuated by the open office door kicking back against the wall, the tearing of paper as Charlotte ripped into her envelope. “Tell her this out de way circumstance. How Daddy drove his truck away and forgot us all.”
Freesia stopped in the next room, a waiting room filled with gurgling fountains and liquid jazz designed to make people feel better about their lives falling apart in the eyes of the law. She turned in profile. Her chin trembled.
“Tell her…” Alex pleaded, her voice quieter now.
Charlotte looked up from her letter. Soundlessly, she navigated chairs pushed back in chaos, Alex’s flawed stance. Charlotte’s sensible shoes squeaked damp against the waiting room tile. Alex’s baby sister, ill-prepared for what the world outside Devon brought her, pulled Freesia Day into the warmest of summer-like embraces, her letter from Daddy loose and forgotten in her hand.
“You’re our sister.”
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Welcome to Devon, home of Match Made in Devon, the bridal shop that defines the lives of the March sisters. Now it belongs to them, as both of their parents are gone. Their inheritance brings about some major family secrets, major life decisions, and takes them on a journey that they never saw coming.
For Alex, it is the hardest in a lot of ways. She demands perfection in her life. She wants order in the chaos. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. She is thrown curve ball after curve ball, rocking her to her core, as she tries to come to terms with secrets she is just discovering, as well as those that she has tried to keep buried as she relies on her Bullet Journal to keep herself organized and on track in life, being a super power of sorts in the corporate world in Boston. Those curve balls are even harder to deal with after you lose both of your parents. I really related to that aspect of this character, being in the midst of having life throw curve balls in my direction within this first year after becoming an adult orphan.
The bulk of the story is told from Alex's point of view. A couple of chapters are looked at from Charlotte's point of view and then from Freesia's point of view. Charlotte is the sister who grew up with Alex. She is the one who stayed in Devon and lived the traditional life, marrying young and having a family right away and helping their mom with the store. She wants to hold onto the store, because it is a piece of her. But she, too, is trying to figure out a few things in life.
And then we have Freesia popping in here and there. She is the new sister, the one who is trying to find herself now that she knows the full truth about herself. She's trying to fit into a new town and a new way of life as she tries to get to know her newfound family. She is charismatic and a bit of a free spirit, making her different from her sisters. But that quest for truth definitely makes her one of them.
As I said, we focus the most on Alex's journey in this book. Her career is falling apart. Her marriage has already been on the rocks for quite some time. Coming home has opened up some old wounds, as she is thrust in the path of Jonah, the one man she ever truly loved. She doesn't deal well with emotions and blocks on her perceived perfect path. And that is the journey that she must take. She must learn the truth about her parents and her family and find a way to forgive them for their reality. She has to learn how to forgive herself to move on from her past in Devon. She has to learn to let go of perfection, to take life as it comes and try to deal with it in real terms. And she does come a long way, but you know she still has a ways to go. I really understood Alex and feel like I was able to take something from her journey to cogitate on in my own life.
Charlotte and Freesia definitely have stories to tell. This book is just an introduction to them, to give us a sense of their personal struggles and who they are. I have a feeling that we will get their stories relatively soon and I look forward to going on their journeys with them. More life lessons are there to be learned and experienced. I think a lot of women should be able to relate to different aspects of these women's lives.
I also liked the more unique setting and story in this book. While I love my magical bridal shops and contemporary romance stories that help you to escape reality, I also really enjoyed the more realistic feel of this one. Yes, there is still an element of escape as you enter the lives of these other women. And then there is the intrigue of the mementos left behind in the upstairs that tell the stories of the brides who have gone before. It was just classic small town charm and I really wanted to find this town and see this store for myself. I love quirky places and quirky people.
And a final shout-out has to go to Jonah's daughter, whom he calls Ibby. The child is extremely precocious and wise for her young age. She is able to teach adults as much as they can teach her. I would have loved to have had her in my class while I was teaching and would even enjoy her company otherwise. I feel like in about 10 to 15 years (as far as the story setting goes), she will also have a great story to tell.
So yes, I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it.
I also did get a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which in no way swayed my opinions.
About Danielle Blair
Danielle Blair escaped the slog of her former accounting job to instead pursue writing women’s fiction. She pens empowering stories about women, for women, that focus on a woman’s unique journey to find her place in the modern world.
But this wasn’t always the case. Following a messy divorce, Danielle took to reading and writing to help sort out the whirlwind of emotions she was dealing with. What started as a coping mechanism turned into a passion and in 2017 she transitioned to writing full time. Along the winding journey to authorship she also met and married her current husband, who is the love of her life.
She writes her books with the help of her two sisters—Jennifer helps to plot out the stories, while Linda is the beady eye behind the editing of them. Since setting up the tire swing in their back yard together as kids, they’ve always worked better as a team—so why not write a book together?
She is the mother of two handsome adult sons, and three dogs that act like children (but she loves them anyway). When not lost writing her next book, Danielle can be found outside digging in the dirt, trying to coax her husband to just try yoga once, and cooking meals that may or may not end up burned every once and a while.
Danielle Blair will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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